Whittle the Wood attracts returning, new competitors alike to Craig
19th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous schedule of eventsWednesday 9 a.m. Carving begins Thursday 9 a.m. Carving continues Friday 9 a.m. Carving continues All day Arts and crafts and food vendors, beer garden 4:30 p.m. Performance by River City Band 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Bear River Young Life barbecue and car cruise, starts at Yampa Valley Bank 6:30 p.m. Performance by Buckstein Saturday 8 a.m. Wake the Whittler 5K and One-Mile Fun Run 9 a.m. Carving continues 9 a.m. Pirates of the Yampa River Race, starts at Loudy-Simpson Park boat ramp All day Arts and crafts and food vendors, beer garden 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bear River Young Life Car Show and Fundraiser on Yampa Avenue 11:30 a.m. Pirates of the Yampa Poker Run, starts at Pebble Beach 1 p.m. Quick Carve Competition 1 p.m. Thunder Rolls Bowling Center and Sizzling Pickle cornhole tournament 3 p.m. Performance by Movers & Shakers 5 p.m. Carving winners announced 5:30 p.m. Performance by Big Head Todd and the Monsters — All events take place at Loudy-Simpson Park unless otherwise noted. A $10 cover charge at the gate for Saturday’s events is included for ages 13 and older, $5 in advance. Advance tickets can be purchased online or in person at the Craig Parks and Recreation office, 300 W. Fourth St. Coolers are allowed but not alcohol. No pets or bicycles will be allowed in the park. A shuttle is available every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday from the car show, the Safeway parking lot, the former Country Mall lot and the corner of Ranney and First Street. For more information, visit whittlethewood.com or follow the event on social media at Facebook.com/whittlethewood.
The sun was bright, the chainsaws noisy and spirits high in Loudy-Simpson Park Wednesday as the festivities began for the 19th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous.
Carvers took to their stations in the morning for hours of slicing and dicing on tree stumps that will go from a hunk of wood to a work of art by Saturday.
Though one dozen competitors were scheduled to join the event this year, a late cancellation by California’s Robert Waits due to a family emergency left the field with 11.
Of those 11 carvers, 10 have been at Whittle the Wood at least once, hailing from near and far.
Doug Moreland comes in from Texas, Damon Gorecki, Chad Stratton and Jim Valentine Utah, while Ken Braun, Bongo Love, Robert Lyon, Matt Ounsworth, Joe Srholez and Joe Wenal all reside in Colorado.
Both Stratton and Love have competed more than 10 times, this year the 13th occasion for Stratton and 11th for Love.
It was through Love that the final contestant came to Craig.
Boulder’s Justine Park said she had apprenticed with Love to learn the skill of wood-carving and decided to take on the challenge.
“I’m definitely the new kid on the block,” she laughed. “It’s the first time I’ve even been on scaffolding. Just 20 minutes of that was tough.”
Park said she was immediately drawn to the stump she was assigned, with a split at the top allowing her to craft a different shape than everyone else.
Once she’s completed it, the piece will resemble a pair of intertwined feathers.
“They’ll be kind of artsy, Justine feathers. That’s the first thing I learned how to carve,” she said.
After hearing about the festival, Park said she was impressed with the quality of work everyone has done, as well as the crowd response.
“It’s exciting to get to be part of this world I never knew existed,” she said. “I can’t wait to get know people in the Craig community.”
The hustle and bustle of Christmas is a long-running activity that some love and others dread, but when you take a seat and think about the reason for the season, you’re likely to be happier.